Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Mavis Hawa Koomson has warned that her Ministry would not countenance illegal fishing practices on Ghana’s waters.
She asked artisanal fishers, tuna vessels, and trawlers engaging or intending to engage in Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the four coastal regions to forget about it else “you’ll have a problem with me.”
The Minister issued the warning during her visit to the Volta Region for an engagement with stakeholders in fishing ahead of the planned 2021 closed season starting July 01.
Mrs Hawa Koomson said the fishing infractions aside from the negative impacts of unfair competition, depletion of the fish stock, destruction of the marine ecosystem and by extension, livelihoods of fisher folks, had implications on human health thus, the need for such culprits to be made to face the law.
“If you’re caught for illegal fishing, you’ll face prosecution straight away. Even if you’re the son or daughter of the President, I’ll prosecute you because even the President is not happy with the illegality so he’ll support me.”
The meeting which had in attendance Municipal and District Chief Executives from the three coastal areas, fisher groups, a member of the Fisheries Committee in Parliament, and officials from MoFAD and Fisheries Commission, sought to appeal to the artisanal fishers to observe the closed season.
Mrs Hawa Koomson explained closed seasons had nothing to do with politics but everything to do with replenishing the fish stock to avert the possible collapse of the fishing industry due to depleted stock.
The Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya East also said the observance of the season could also save Ghana from being sanctioned by the European Union such that fishery resources from the country would not be allowed onto international markets which would deprive the country of the needed revenue.
Mr Michael Arthur-Dadzie, Executive Director, Fisheries Commission called on Volta fishers to go back to the old times when they were noted for complying with fisheries laws in their interest saying, “you’re losing that name.”
A naval officer from the Fishing Enforcement Unit said their responsibility was to enforce the fisheries laws to protect the resource and charged fishers to comply with the directive and assured that the Unit would do its best to ensure fishers from neighbouring Togo did not come onto Ghana’s waters to fish during the period of the closed season.
Torgbui Seth Abotsi, Volta Regional Chairman, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council assured of the Council’s readiness to support the efforts of the Ministry and the Commission aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the fishery industry.
The Council called for solutions to challenges including issues of sufficient and regular supply of premix fuel to landing beaches to improve their work.